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Shopping in the shop that shall remain nameless

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 6th Jan 2012

If there is one thing that fills me with dread, as it did when we lived in the UK, it is the yearly pilgrimage to spend a full day at a shopping-centre which shall not be named.

Let’s just say that this particular Scandinavian store is generally situated on the outskirts of most major cities throughout Europe, and has a corporate colour scheme similar to an ‘Oirish’ airline that employs similar business ethics : Showing a total disregard and lack of respect for your customers.

The last time the dreaded excursion was forced upon we must have circumvented the car park at least a dozen times before abandoning the car about a mile away to walk to the store. On actually reaching the front entrance we had to queue to get in. Honestly, there was a team of Blue and Yellow clad bouncers on the door that looked about as butch as Graham Norton at a Mardi Gras, telling people that the store was full and that they were enforcing a ‘one in, one out’ policy !

Christmas Gift Lists

Honestly, I’m there with a pocket full of cash (despite ‘El Creesis’) and they are doing all they can to discourage me from getting through the door.

Fortunately / Unfortunately (depending how you look at it) We live about 3 hours away, so the last thing I want to do is go away and try again another day, so we stuck it out.

30 mins later we were given the enormous honour of being allowed into the store to spend our hard earned cash there, but our daughter was feeling the effects of boredom after being forced to queue up like a refugee waiting for a cupful of rice.

So the first thing we did was check her into the play gym thing to let her blow off a bit of steam whilst we wandered around the store to look for these things that we apparently needed.

Now if there are five things that hack me off about this store it is these :

1.) Which Nazi decided that I had to follow a certain route around the store like a mouse in a maze ? Which Fascist decided to put choke points on every corner where I would be encouraged to pick up a catalogue and a 2” long blunt pencil, whilst trying to squeeze past Grannies with weirdly shaped shopping trolleys ?

2.) What is this fascination with rugs, lamps, Candles, Pot Pourri and cushions? - Maybe it’s a woman thing, but have you ever heard a (Heterosexual) man ever declare that ‘There isn’t enough cushions in here’, or ask ‘Shall I light another candle?’... ?

3.) Shoddily made doesn’t do the description of most of their furniture justice. Unless you only intend whatever it is that you bought to last 2 years at most, you will be disappointed. Every time the wind blows the compressed fibreboard swells and splits or the screws rattle loose in their holes. I’d prefer to pay a few extra quid and buy some proper furniture that I didn’t have to make myself from the contents of a Christmas cracker.

Either way,I Know Everything’s Awful (... that Grammar School education wasn’t wasted...)

4.) Honestly, what is it about the names ? I get the idea that they are trying to be ‘European’ and all that, but calling something as mundane as a Bookshelf ‘Spunk’, or a coffee table ‘Ploppy’ doesn’t really sell it to me.

5.) The ‘marketplace’ : even as a hardened cynic I get suckered into buying crap that I don’t want or need : Light bulbs, Batteries, Tea-Lights, Cutlery, Interesting Kitchen Utensils.... all which I would never have thought about buying elsewhere and if, for no other reasons, than because I have an empty basket.

But the thing that really pushed me over the edge were the jobsworths manning the highly dangerous and demanding position of watching over the play-gym.

On palming your offspring off on the unsuspecting attendant you are normally given a 45 minute ticket in exchange for 1 Euro. Quite reasonable. However, the store is laid out in such a fashion that it is impossible to get all the way round and pay for your goods in time to collect your child at the agreed time.

So being the generous soul that I am, I volunteered to forego ‘the Marketplace’ and spend the 15 mins following the yellow line zig-zagging back through the store against the tide of people walking in the opposite direction, to collect my daughter.

I got to the desk and pointed to my daughter, but as my other half had actually signed the indemnity form, the jobsworth would not let my daughter leave – despite that she was clinging to my leg asking me to buy her a Swedish hot dog. I showed Sr Jobsworth my driving licence and passport, proving how my name and address matched that of both my OH and my daughter. Still they would not let her leave in my possession.

So I tried to call the OH on her mobile but, for the love of sweet baby Jesus, the store is so vast that it is impossible to get a signal so far inside and away from the real world !

So I had to spend another 15 mins walking back along the yellow zig-zaggy line to find the Mrs deep in contemplation in a major pot-pourri decision, to tell her that she had to go all the way back to collect our daughter. Which naturally, I got the blame for.

So finally we got to the check out, to pay for the vast array of goods that we had travelled 2 hours to get to, 30 mins queuing to get to see, 30 mins with childcare issues, only to be told that there was an estimated wait of 30 mins at the Cash desks due to the volume of shoppers compared to the shortage of cashiers. (Shortage of Cashiers? – With a 23% rate of Unemployment in Spain ?)

I can’t for the life in me think why we only make it a once in a year event.

Comment on this Blog

 
At least they have done the decent thing and take those God-awful meatballs of the menu in the light of the recent Horseburger scandal. All that remains is to get rid of the rubbery smoked salmon they insist on churning out at every other corner of their menu.
Mr Grumpy - Mon, 25th Feb 2013
Thanks MT, the general consensus here seems to be that it is a 'man thing'.
Mr Grumpy - Tue, 17th Apr 2012
I followed you over here from Not Hemingway's, and I can't help but laugh at this. I personally like the store that shall remain nameless, but then again, I'm a woman. We've never run into any such problems at any of the stores, and we've been to two in Madrid, the one in Zaragoza, and the one in Bilbao. It's not that we go there for fun, but it has solved more than a few furniture crises for us, and I actually have a chair that is twelve years old, and it's still in good shape. Oh, and a kitchen table of the same age, that now serves as a desk for our kids. So, it's not all bad, although you do have to be careful, because there is a lot of shoddy stuff mixed in. Personally, I like the designs they have better than the overly classic, and highly overpriced, stuff you find in most furniture stores around Pamplona.
Mother Theresa - Tue, 17th Apr 2012
We never have such problems in the Madrid one. (San Sebastián de los Reyes). I love going to that Swedish Store and follow the route like a religious pilgrimage. They´re so sweet to place everything so handily, so often, since I´m a bit forgetful and only have one pair of hands full of said tealights and things for putting tealights in. My daughter, perhaps due to a deprived childhood, loves the pencils and has hours of fun with them. And we adore the cafeteria wee Swedish balls with jam! I would draw the line at Ploppy I have to say but at least it´s pronounceable. Fun day out for all the family! You can have mahogany and heirlooms if you like, gimme some of that plastic, man!
Mo - Tue, 24th Jan 2012
Ray, Perhaps your family can visit you for '50 quid return'. Unfortunately it would probably cost them three times that to bring their luggage, have a pot of tea on the plane, and to buy said tickets with 99% of all credit cards.
Mr Grumpy - Sun, 8th Jan 2012
Perhaps I am odd but I love the store in Madrid and surprisingly I love the yellow and blue airline too as it means that my family can get to see me for 50 quid return or less !!
Ray - Fri, 6th Jan 2012
In answer to your point 2, I presume your question is rhetorical given that you know that you enjoyed a certain person's hospitality just last Friday. That said, you did say 'man'...
Andrew B - Fri, 6th Jan 2012
LOL - B) - although I have been there with a female friend on occasion and we are both 'allergic' to lengthy shopping experiences. In any case the website is good and you can locate precisely where major items are stocked in the warehouse so it needn't be a chore if you plan ahead. I don't live so far away - maybe only 45 or so minutes, but it is still a chunk out of one's day to make the return trip.
Bill - Fri, 6th Jan 2012
Bill : ' In and out in 15/20 mins ' ?... you are either A) Lying, or B) Shopping without a female in tow. (Ladies, please feel free to berate my sexist comments below ...)
Mr Grumpy - Fri, 6th Jan 2012
Glad you enjoyed your day ;) The first time I visited that particular store in my part of Spain (the one at Murcia) I followed the prescribed route around the display areas, but since then on the rare-ish occasions I visit I always go in through the check-out area and back through the warehouse section, then into the areas where everything is displayed for pick-up. I know roughly where everything is so go straight to the correct area - I can be in/out in 15/20 minutes. On a few occasions I have looked up the items I wanted (stools or small bookcases) in the website and having found the item one can then locate in the website precisely where they are stacked in the warehouse area and how many are currently in stock - then I've gone straight in, got a trolley, picked up the item from the right aisle in the warehouse - in/out in 10 minutes. I'm useless at DIY, but even I can cope with putting them together - they may not last for forever, but they are cheap and can be replaced. Relax :)
Bill - Fri, 6th Jan 2012

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